Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me (A review)

One of my first great loves is reading, followed of course by writing (a close second.) Since one of my resolutions for this year is to get back to the things that I love, it is only natural that I write a book review. To make things an even better fit, the books are primarily Christian-themed, and exploring my spirituality is something I am working at diligently right now. The book that I will share with you today is called Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me, by Ian Cron. This book was provided for me free of charge by the publisher (through BookSneeze, a blogger book review program), in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was in no way encouraged to write a positive review. Without further ado, here are my thoughts:

Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me (Ian Cron)

Cron’s story is what I would consider creative non-fiction. The story of Cron’s life unfolds in snippets of stories from his childhood, and catalogs his reactions both then, and now. The story is one of family, struggle, growth, and a slow acceptance of God and his role in our lives. Cron shares the shocking revelation his mother shares with him at age 16: that his father works for the CIA. The rest of the tale unfolds in present reflection, emotional flashbacks, and the real, raw emotion of a child growing up with an alcoholic father, a slightly dysfunctional family, and a constant struggle between loving and hating God.

If I were to some up this book in just one word, it would simply be “good.” There were several things that I loved, and a couple that I really, really didn’t. Unfortunately, one of the particularly displeasing things occurred very heavily in the beginning of the book, which made it difficult to get into. In the first 1/4-1/3 of the book, Cron uses an incessant amount of pop-culture references. I can appreciate a reference here or there, but there were so many littered throughout the story that it became distracting. This did taper off some as the story progressed, but it definitely took away from the beginning.

One of the aspects that I loved about this book is Cron’s ability to really bring a reader in to the pain that he feels throughout the story. The emotions he felt, the thoughts in his mind, the atmosphere of a room, the tone of a conversation- he draws the reader in with beautiful descriptions, vivid language, and a personable tone until you literally feel the pain and fear along with him.

Lighter moments, such as arriving early to be an altar boy will simultaneously make you shake with laughter and shudder in fear. Darker moments, especially in confrontations with his father, literally made me pull the covers up closer around my shoulders, hiding from a man in someone else’s house 30 years ago.

As a general rule, I tend to gravitate towards books like Cron’s. I love stories of struggle, not because the person had to endure that struggle, but because of the bravery required to share a story like that. If you, too, enjoy a deeply personal, increasingly intense, and reassuring tale of struggle, love, loss, and growing both in age, experience, and faith, then I would definitely pick up a copy of Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me.

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